TABLE-TOPPERS Hanging Heaton are hoping to pick up from where they left off last year as they resume their season with a trip to second-placed Ovenden A tomorrow (Sat).
Steve Smith’s side ended 2017 at the top of the Pennine League Division Two West table following victory over Greetland on December 16.
After resuming training on Tuesday, Smith insists his players are feeling refreshed and eager to get going again.
“After our win over Greetland, let’s say we had a nice start to the Christmas period, but it’s now back to work time,” he said.
“It can be frustrating for myself and the boys when there are gaps between games – it’s a case of remaining focussed and concentrating on the things we can control.
“We must keep preparing well, tweak things and maintain our fitness levels.”
Victory tomorrow would create added breathing space for Hanging Heaton, who sit just a point ahead of Ovenden A.
“Obviously Ovenden are having a good season, as are we,” said Smith.
“It will be a tough outing, we’re under no illusions. There is a point between us, but we have two games in hand so a win will see us widen that gap at the top.
“We came out comfortable victors at home and managed to keep them to one score but I think it will be a different story at their place.
“The conditions will be totally different with worse weather and heavier pitches at this time of year, so if our forwards can get on top and we look after the ball, I think we are capable of grinding out the win.”
Hanging Heaton’s performances have been exemplary so far, conceding just 10 points on average per game and scoring 310 points in the eight games played.
“We are only half-way through the season but I am very pleased with how things are going,” said Smith.
“We’ve had quite a few good wins and played some excellent attacking rugby.
“What I’m most pleased with is our defence, averaging 10 points per game conceded is testament to how hard the boys work for each other.”
Smith’s men have won seven of their eight games this season, only dropping points in a draw against forth-placed Underbank in October.
“We were a bit disappointed with the draw away at Underbank, but still remain undefeated all the same,” said Smith.
“The club management did set a target of finishing in a comfortable position at the higher end of the table, I however had other ideas.
“We came close to some silverware last year so I wanted us to go one better.
“We are on track for that top spot but we’ve a long way to go yet. We will just keep working hard and hopefully the results will take care of themselves.”